Saturday, 3 January 2015

You said... we listened...

Just before Christmas, a leaflet came through our letterbox, addressed to "the  Occupier". Nothing new about this, we get about a pound and a half of waste paper a week shoved through our letterbox and it all goes into the recycling bin (or used to, more about this later).

Happening to glance at it, I noticed that it came from Peabody, the housing trust brought in to try and sort out the dismal state of Thamesmead, it's housing and infrastructure. Instead of disposing of it with the other junk, I put it away somewhere with the intention of reading it later and promptly forgot about it. 

Well, I've just found it again. It's a curious bit of origami that needs both hands to unfold and frankly, promises more than it delivers. I don't want to be a killjoy and it's probably early days yet to dismiss them altogether; it's a fact that Peabody Trust has been around for a long time and against all odds, seems to have a good reputation when it comes to turning round failed estates. Having said that, the leaflet contains nothing other than vague promises to "identify problems", "carry out comprehensive assessments", "work with partners", etc.,etc.

Given that those partners include both Greenwich and Bexley Councils, you will forgive me if I don't hold my breath. For years, Greenwich Council policy has been to stifle commercial development of Thamesmead in order to force residents to use Woolwich as a shopping and leisure hub. The Bexley Council approach to Thamesmead seems to be to cross their fingers and hope the fairies make it go away.

Here, pedestrians slip, slide and stumble along
an uneven footpath covered in the slippery
remains of dead leaves that fell last September.
The street light on the right of the picture has
never worked.
Frankly, I don't think they are going to make much headway. The problem with Thamesmead has always been that it has been developed on a piecemeal basis with responsibility for it's infrastructure belonging to various, and sometimes competing, institutions. Their programme to "improve play spaces for young people" may find itself at odds with Bexley Council's current programme of selling off it's open spaces in a desperate attempt to balance it's books.

Responsibility for the lighting of public spaces is shared between the owners of whatever land the lighting is on. While I applaud the stated aim of Peabody to make sure all the lighting they are responsible for is fit for purpose, the decision to "work with others to try and ensure lights we do not own meet the Peabody standard", is likely to be met with total indifference. The lights along the alley between Castilion School and Marlborough Court Care Home for example haven't worked in the last twenty years and I can't see Bexley council doing much about that just because Peabody say it might be a good idea.

Foot and cycle paths meander around the place, often blocked by years of vegetation growth and accumulations of uncollected litter and, as often as not, coming to a dead end at a pile of rubble or a broken down chicken wire fence left behind by the last developer who managed to flog off the homes they just built and left the site as it was. If Peabody want to do anything about that, they will almost certainly find it impossible to identify who is responsible, or if they do, get them to do anything about it.

This mass of undergrowth was never cleared
from this cycle path in the whole of 2014. It
falls over a fence from land owned by EDF.
Apart from that, there is little more than their claim that they will "work with local residents, the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Bexley Council to identify problems and make improvements in all of Thamesmead's neighbourhoods". A statement so generic as to be virtually meaningless.

In the mean time, Bexley Council continues to ignore the whole of the northern part of its borough in general and Thamesmead in particular. Greenwich Council seems to be on a mission to make driving in Thamesmead even more hazardous than ever with it's idiotic bus lane programme.

Footpath and cycle paths remain blocked by accumulations of rubbish and vegetation; the town centre bus stop remains as lethal as ever; the town centre itself is a woefully inadequate facility for the population it's meant to serve.

Good luck Peabody.

bexley council and it's recycling policy

I was going to show you another picture of our overflowing recycling bins, but honestly, what's the point?

It would be exactly the same as all the others and why would you want to look at it? I have given up phoning them to tell them to come and empty it; if they don't care, why should I? We never did get our garden waste bin back and from what I understand, Bexley Council is going to stop collecting garden waste altogether soon. Serco is the company that collects waste for recycling but the recycling itself is carried out by another company called Veolia who I understand are less than happy with Bexley Council at the moment. Perhaps someone knows more about it than me.

history? channel

I wrote a less than charitable piece the other week about some of the (so called) documentary channels you will find on Sky. 

One of them  that used to really annoy me me was the History channel with it's obsession with cretinous "fly on the wall" type documentaries and a predilection for programmes featuring barmpot conspiracy theories.

It seems I'm not the only one and I recently found this cartoon on one of my favourite Facebook pages and stole it. I am confident they won't mind as long as I give them a plug.

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe

Actually, I think they may have stolen it from somewhere else so the hell with it.

I am writing this piece on Friday evening and I thought I would take a look at what I am missing.

On the History channel, it seems I am missing this

And on H2, which is it's sister channel, I could be watching this

The sacrifices I have to make to get this blog out on time.............................

Local wildlife

It wouldn't do to have a post with nothing about the local wildlife in it. Here is a small selection of pictures I have taken out and about this week.

I took this picture of some rather puzzled birds on a frozen Morrison's lake early this week. Some baffled
Coots wondering where the water went; and a couple of Lesser Black Backed Gulls.
This rather strange looking fellow seems to be a cross between a Mallard and some domesticated
variety of duck. Rather unfortunately described in the 'birding' community as a "Manky Mallard",
 it looks very like one seen last year in Mordon Hall Park and was a cross with an Indian Spotbill Duck.
Might even be the same one.
Curious Robin. Probably wondering whether I was going to try and steal any of his worms.
Lapwing in the air. You get lots of these along the river at this time of year. They can number in the hundreds.
Here is one close up. Brilliant colours in the low Winter Sun.
You would sometimes see a Peregrine Falcon flying around the area and it would perch on some high vantage point.
Recently, we have been treated to a pair roosting on the top of the incinerator chimney. If we are really lucky, they
may stay and breed. That would be a real treat.

and finally........ my latest header

What these two Mallards think of my bird photography

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